Campaigners praised ahead of period poverty vote

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Bill making sanitary products free in Scotland set to pass first vote on Tuesday. 

25th February 2020 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Campaigners have been praised as MSPs prepare to make sanitary products free of charge in Scotland.

New legislation, put forward by Labour’s Monica Lennon, is set to pass its first vote in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

SNP MSPs had previously opposed the bill, citing concerns about the cost, but changed their position after pressure from charities and activists fighting period poverty.

Their U-turn means the bill is being supported by all parties at Holyrood.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Ms Lennon said: "I'm thrilled this bill has support from right across civic Scotland, from girl guides, trade unions, anti-poverty charities and many individuals who have had their own lived experience of period poverty and know what it is like not to have access to products when they need them."

The legislation, expected to cost around £24m a year, means the Scottish government must ensure that sanitary products are available free of charge for “anyone who needs them".

Campaigners from across Scotland’s civic sector have lobbied for Ms Lennon’s bill to become law. They will gather for a rally outside the Scottish Parliament in the hours before the vote is taken.

Girlguiding Scotland Speak Out Champion, 21-year-old Katie Young, said: “This is such a great step forward in ensuring that the taboos around periods are tackled in making them more visible, starting discussions around periods, and ensuring that in the future, they will no longer be a source of anxiety.

“I'm hopeful that the bill will continue to move through Parliament, and that universal free period products becomes a right for all people in Scotland."

Anna Fowlie, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), said: “Providing visible, free sanitary towels and tampons sends a strong message which says having your period is normal and, most importantly, makes sure all women and girls have the protection they need.

“No one should ever feel ashamed of such a natural human function, nor should they be bullied, teased or excluded because of it. Sanitary protection is a basic human right and I’m pleased to see Monica Lennon’s bill receive the support it needs to further progress through the parliament.”

Other supporters, including Unite, the STUC, Sanitree, Engender Scotland and The Body Shop hailed the bill via social media.